Lightnin' Hopkins

Bluesman

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This two-disc set from Fuel combines two Lightnin' Hopkins projects that have been released in countless combinations under various titles over the years. Disc one, labeled "Texas Sessions," was recorded February 1, 1968 and has been on the market under the title Free Form Patterns (it has also turned up under the title Reflections). It features the unlikely pairing of Hopkins with the rhythm section from the 13th Floor Elevators (Danny Thomas on drums and Duke Davis on bass), and also includes Hopkins' cousin Billy Bizor sitting in on harmonica and taking a couple of vocals ("Fox Chase" and "Baby Child"). The end result is a loose but definitely enjoyable set of ramshackle blues, with the highlight being a solo turn by Hopkins on the spooky, harrowing "Black Ghost." Disc two, entitled "California Sessions," has been on the market for years as Lightnin' Hopkins & the Blues Summit, and features exuberant and well-lubricated jams in both the studio and at a Los Angeles club called the Ash Grove. Recorded on July 6, 1960, the jams feature Hopkins, Big Joe Williams, duo Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee, and an unknown piano player, with plenty of interjections, hoots, hollers and encouragements from whoever isn't handling the lead vocal at the time. Clear highlights include the gospel-inflected "Right on That Shore" and an impressively focused version of "You're Gonna Need Somebody on Your Bond" called "I've Been Buked and I've Been Scorned." These two frequently bootlegged sets fit well together, and while neither is exactly essential for Hopkins fans, they're a lot of fun.

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